How to Stay Sane This Holiday Season

How to Stay Sane This Holiday Season

As much as the holidays mean spending time with our loved ones  – they also can mean…STRESS!

Pulling together gifts, cooking, indulging in treats and extra time with your family – no matter how much we love them, can lead to burning out.

And we all know that can happen, FAST.

I think a lot of us are consistently running at 100 MPH all the time, but it feels like the holidays exacerbate this even more.

I am SOO hoping to stay ahead of my stress this year, which is why I spent some serious time making a plan for the best techniques to use when I am feeling frazzled.

It can be hard to remember to take time to take care of ourselves and maintain our health during the holiday season –  so check out these tips to help keep you calm, cool and collected.

#1 Magnesium Bath

Want to get in touch with your luxurious, goddess self? Fill up a hot bath with magnesium flakes. Try adding flower petals and lighting a candle to create some serious atmosphere.

#2 4-7-8 Breathing

Sit upright with your back straight and breathe in through your nose for 4 counts. Hold your breath in for 7 counts, and then exhale for 8 counts. Repeat this process 4 times. This exercise is literally retraining your brain on how to hold deeper breathes, and forces you to pay attention to your breathing patterns. This exercise has really helped me in deep bouts of anxiety.

#3 Progressive Muscle Relaxation 

This popular method is based on the theory that if you can control the tenseness and relaxation in your physical body, your mental tenseness can also be controlled. Lay somewhere where you will not be bothered and tense a muscle group, for example, tightening your fist. Hold for a few seconds and release. Move through each muscle group until you have worked through your body. Pay attention to how your muscles feel after releasing the tension.

#4 Basic Emotional Regulation 

Remember this Acronym :
PL  Treat Physical Illness
– Eat
A – Avoid Mood-Altering Drugs
S – Sleep Well
E – Exercise
The science behind this shows that you cannot help your mind relax unless you are taking care of your physical body first or in unison.

#5 Get Outside 

Biophilia is the principle that states that when you are surrounded by nature, (this can even be a picture of nature) your mood is improved, you will experience stress relief, and even increases the speed at which people heal. Get outside – Take a forest bath!

#6 Meditate 

Yes, I know meditating always makes these lists, but that is because IT WORKS. I promise. There is the research to prove it. Take 3-5 minutes and sit with your eyes closed and back straight and focus on your breathing. Or complete a guided meditation, like any of these. There is no wrong way for your thoughts to travel while meditating.

#7 Drink some tea 

Preferably some non-stimulating blends like chamomile, ginger or peppermint. Sometimes I let the steam wash over my face before sipping and really absorb myself in the moment. This can create some additional moisture on the face and eyes, opening up the pores and creating a warm embrace. 

#8 Exercise

Even if it is a light walk, get out and exercise! We have all heard, ENDORPHINS MAKE YOU HAPPY! Even better, get outside to exercise and receive the benefits from #5 too!

#9 Get busy

Science also shows that spending time with loved ones and being intimate will help release stress and boost mood. So grab your beaux and load up the Netflix queue. Not feeling it?

#10 Pet your Pet

There is a reason cat cafes are becoming so popular in large cities. Once again, science has proven that spending time with our pets releases stress. So give your little cutie a much needed snuggle

#11 Be alone 

In order to fully register and process our thoughts and feelings, we really need some solo time (even you extroverts out there!). Make some time for yourself, whether it’s time in the shower or on your morning commute and focus on your thoughts and feelings.

#12 Gratitude journal

 One way to check your stress is to switch up your perspective. Jotting down a few things you are grateful for can really help center your thoughts and refresh your perspective.

#13 Work on a passion project

For me, it can be as simple as going dancing or focusing on what makes my body feel best. Spending time on the tasks that fuel our internal, creative or passionate fire can help us remain focused on long term goals and desires or just remain present.

 

What about you, love? Do you have any go to stress relief tips for the holiday season, or even year round? I would love to hear them and have more options in my back pocket – leave a comment with your favorite way to stay sane, below!

 

<3

Are Collagen Peptides the New Superfood?

Are Collagen Peptides the New Superfood?

Collagen peptides have been a buzz worthy topic amongst the paleo community for years now, and I personally think they’re great. I can’t use them currently because they’ve got a lot of calcium in them and I’m working on a magnesium deficiency, but I’m working really hard to get those magnesium levels up, in part because I want to be able to take collagen peptides.

But what exactly is a collagen peptide, and how can it benefit you?

Most well-known for the role it plays in our skin, collagen also makes up the majority of the muscoskeletal system, including joints, bones and ligaments. Collagen benefits the skin, nails and hair. Yet perhaps more importantly, collagen peptides can also really help improve systems inside the body, especially the gut.

Collagen peptides are short chain amino acids. They come from protein. But, they are unique because they contain four specific amino acids:  hydroxyproline, arginine, glycine, and proline. If your body lacks any of the four amino acids composing collagen peptides (which is easy to do if you don’t regularly eat skin or bone broth or gnaw on bones), it may be difficult for your body to produce collagen. This is why I value the supplements.

The difference between collagen and gelatin

Gelatin and collagen peptides often get confused. I myself accidently purchase gelatin originally instead of collagen peptides. One of the main differences between the two is the ability to dissolve into cold and hot substances. Gelatin is only able to dissolve into hot liquids and will congeal. it’s good for things like making jello. Collagen peptides on the other hand stay liquid at room temperature.  In my opinion, although technically flavorless, gelatin has a more noticeable taste and smell than collagen peptides. Whichever you choose to use, don’t worry; they have the same amino acids. Check out my favorite gelatin supplement here!

Why I started using collagen peptides

Collagen is known to help rheumatoid arthritis, osteosis, and in general, strengthen bones, joints and ligaments. Because collagen is the primary component making up our bones and cartilage, it is believed that consumption of the peptides will lead to easier reproduction of collagen in the body and replenishing supplies which as a result, promotes elasticity in the joints.

I have really bad knees. I’m not sure if I ever told any of you that!

AND My gut health really matters to me, so I am really eager to get back to taking peptides.

Finally: Of course, we all know I’m super vain.  Perhaps most (and worst!) of all, I really value the collagen supplements for their ability to help my skin be as smooth and elastic as possible.

Joint Health

Collagen is high in glycine and proline that are essential in creating new collagen in the body . Collagen peptides stimulate production of collagen in the body, allowing an increase of collagen production. Because it is the primary component in our bones and cartilage, it is often used by athletes to prevent injuries, and heal existing injuries in bones, tendons and ligaments.

What else can collagen be used for athletically?

Collagen is also used as a supplementation pre- and post-workout because of its ability to stimulate collagen production internally. Its content of Gylcine and Arginine may also help the synthesis of Creatine in the body. Creatine is widely known as the athlete’s supplement because it has demonstrated the ability to improve exercise and strength performance. Collagen also can contain up to 18 grams of protein in a twenty-gram serving.

Improved Skin, Nails and Hair

Collagen peptides improve the epidermis moisture content which can result in several additional positive symptoms (woooo!) including:  

         Promote younger looking skin

         Improve skin moisture level

         Prevent the formation of deep wrinkles

         Improve skin suppleness.

         Replenish moisture levels in hair

         Support nail growth

Healthy Gut

As I had mentioned, because of its elasticity collagen is essential in connectivity tissue growth. Those with leaky guts, or penetrative holes in the gut, may benefit from supplementing. Glycine is thought to reduce GI inflammation, aid digestion, and reduce symptoms of leaky gut. Research has shown that people with autoimmune disorders like Inflammatory Bowel Disease had shown depleted levels of collagen in their system, leading researchers to believe the lack of collagen contributed to inflammation levels.

Where can you source high quality collagen?

Vital Proteins sources from grass fed, pasture raised bovine hides in Brazil, which still supports grass systems. Being pasture raised and grass fed, there is no risk of having RBGH in their products. This, paired with a Brazilian law prohibiting hormones in bovine feed, result in a pure sustainable version of collagen. Vital Proteins also ensures the cows are raised in a happy environment. You can find their collagen peptides here.

Great Lakes Collagen and Gelatin also source their products from grass fed and pasture raised Argentinian and Brazilian cows. They have guaranteed that their laboratories remain free of insecticides, pesticides, herbicides, steroids, antibiotics, or hormones. You can find this brand, here.

I have noticed increased elasticity in my skin, as well as relief in my joints after consistent use. It took about a week of use to notice these benefits; however the other benefits may take consistent long term use to produce results. Collagen is a supplement that has a wide spectrum of positive benefits, and sourcing from a sustainable and non-toxic companies like Vital Proteins and Great Lakes can improve skin quality, hair and nail strength, and gut health to name a few.

What are your thoughts? Have you tried collagen peptides?

Everything You Wanted to Know About MCT Oil

Everything You Wanted to Know About MCT Oil

MCT oil has been a big deal in the paleosphere since bulletproof coffee surfaced as the new wellness trend.

While I’m not a huge fan of dosing myself with caffeine and fat while fasting (in fact, I never do it), I do really believe that MCT oil can have some great benefits. I use it while cooking sometimes (this is my fave). This is because MCT Oil may be able to surpass coconut oil for its nutritional, physical and cognitive benefits.

What is MCT Oil?

MCT’s, or Medium Chain Triglycerides, are a form of fat that is digested differently than an LCT (long chain triglycerides) or SCT (short chain triglycerides). (For more detail on the molecule content, click here.) They’re unique because short chain and long chain triglycerides are metabolized in the digestive system. MCT’s are metabolized in the liver for faster, cleaner conversion to energy or ketones. Ketones are the highly valued component in the ketogenic diet.

While I am not the biggest fan of ketosis, ketones can be wonderful.


4 types of MCT

There are four types of MCT’s, distinguished by carbon content.

C6 – Caproic Acid : is one type of MCT, the shortest of the medium chain triglycerides. This MCT is known as the MCT behind “disaster pants” or a negative digestive side effect resulting in immediate bouts of diarrhea.

C8 – Caprylic Acid : This MCT contains 8 carbon molecules. Because of the smaller amount of carbon content, C8 is easily transferred metabolized into ketones in the liver resulting in instantaneous bursts of energy.

C10 – Capric Acid : This MCT contains ten carbons. The addition of two extra carbons means the MCT reaction is more delayed in the body than C8, but still faster than C12.

C12 – Lauric Acid : The longest of the medium chain triglycerides, C12 is also closest to resembling the molecular structure of an LCT. Like C10, C12 is digested in the liver the slowest, and ketone production can only occur if you are on a low carb diet.

 

Why are people using MCT oil to begin with?

 

  • Eliminating Brain Fog
    Because the carbon content of these triglycerides is less than that of their shorter and longer cousins, they are digested faster and more readily resulting in a more immediate release of energy and clarity. In addition, MCT’s do not require additional energy to digest or be metabolized in the body, so the energy you receive from consuming MCT’s can immediately turn over into a clean form of energy.         
  •  Ketosis
    With all the commotion regarding ketogenic diets these days, MCT’s have been put in the spotlight as commonly seen as an important partner for those on the ketosis diet. Many people who try to do ketosis focus on MCT oil because it further helps their body build up ketone levels in the blood. Interestingly enough, eating a low or zero carb diet, contrary to popular opinion, is not necessary to have ketones in the blood, exactly because you can achieve the same effect from MCT oil. To read more about this ‘shortcut,’ check out this post.
  • Gut and Skin health
    MCT’s containing Lauric Acid (from coconut oil) are known to be antiviral and antibacterial. This has led researchers to believe that MCT’s can contribute to healthy gut flora by stabilizing the bad bacteria. The derivative of Lauric Acid, Monolaurin, has shown antimicrobial activity against bacteria, fungi and viruses. Lauric Acid is also known to have anti-inflammatory properties against acne.  This combined with its antimicrobial properties make it a great supplement to promote a healthy gut reduce inflammation.
  • Weight Loss
    This is a debated topic amongst MCT consumers. Many believe that MCT aids in weight loss, and several studies conducted contribute to this mindset. This study compared individuals using LCT vs MCT and in the course of 4, 8, and 12 weeks demonstrated that those ingesting MCT’s “lost more subcutaneous fat than their counterparts using only LCT.” A lot of this can be attributed to the satiety produced by consuming MCT’s resulting in less consumption of food overall. This inhibits our leptin receptors which also may lead to increased overall satiety. Curious regarding the other ways leptin affects us? Check out this post here.

          (I happen to have a program for healthy and sustainable weight loss if you’re into that sort of thing, which you can check out here!)

How to use it

MCT can be found in coconut and palm oils and high fat dairy products, but is most commonly used in a liquid form, like this one that I have been using. Mixing with coffee or tea in the morning is a common and effortless way to ingest the MCT’s. Start small first, and work your way up to the recommended dose. My friends say a good way to start is by putting a teaspoon in coffee, but I mainly stick to using it in food as that can have less digestive effects. If you do use the coffee method, I recommend consistently stirring or whisking your coffee or tea, as the oil can congeal towards the top of your beverage.

MCT oil can be used in :

  • Smoothies
  • Dressing
  • Oatmeal
  • Teas or Coffee

In food sources, MCT is most highly concentrated in palm oil, and then coconut oil. High quality cheese also contains a substantial amount of MCT’s. Goat’s milk total percent fat content of MCT’s is 19.8%, however it is barely near the 79% found in palm oil. For a full chart of foods containing MCT’s, click here.

The Verdict?

MCT oil really has no drawbacks, so long as you’re using a high quality source.

MCT’s ability to be metabolized in the liver and immediately make ketones creates a clean instant burst of energy that lasts. This is perhaps my favorite part – the long energy and satiation.

Also, because of the antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties found in Lauric Acid, MCT oil can also be an excellent way for those with autoimmune conditions to metabolize fat and boost immune systems. MCT can stray leptin cues however, so ensure you are listening to your body and feeding it the proper amount of food while supplementing, especially carbs!!  

I would love to know about your experiences. Have you tried MCT oil? If so, what was your experience like?

10 Paleo Pumpkin Treats To Get You Through Pumpkin Spice Season

10 Paleo Pumpkin Treats To Get You Through Pumpkin Spice Season

We all know and have lived the madness of fall, a season quickly becoming known otherwise as Pumpkin Spice season. I find it difficult to look anywhere and not be bombarded by Pumpkin Spice EVERYTHING.

Seriously. Everything comes in pumpkin spice flavor these days.

While enticing, so many of the Pumpkin Spice products are highly processed and don’t contain even a small bit of the nutrients found in pumpkin (the amount of nutritional goodness in pumpkin and pumpkin seeds is mindblowing!)

BUT, that does not mean you have to miss out on Pumpkin Spice season. Luckily, so many of our paleo friends have experimented with healthier recipes that are delicious, great alternatives.

Below I have gathered a few of my favorite pumpkin spice treats, including a paleo Pumpkin Spice Latte. The recipes are great because they enhance the cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice flavors instead of masking them with artificial ingredients and yucky chemicals.

Basically – these are the least basic pumpkin recipes you can find. If baking isn’t your thing, check out this post with some of my fav pre-made paleo pumpkin spice goodies.

Check out my favorite pumpkin recipes below – and find even more on my Pinterest page.

#1 Gluten-free Pumpkin Donuts

 

#2 Paleo Pumpkin Latte

 

#3 Paleo Pumpkin Bars

Paleo Pumpkin Spice

 

#4 Flourless Paleo Pumpkin Bars                

Paleo pumpkin spice

 

#5 No Bake Choco Coco Pumpkin Bars

 

#6 Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake

#7 Paleo Pumpkin Bars

 

#8 Triple Chocolate Pumpkin Brownies

Paleo Pumpkin Spice

 

#9 Paleo Pumpkin Pie Freezer Fudge

Paleo Pumpkin Spice

 

#10 Pumpkin Spice Date Bars

I would love to know what recipes you try! Leave a comment with your favorite recipe.

 

Lots of love,

-Stef

The Natural Perfume Alternative You’ve Been Searching For

The Natural Perfume Alternative You’ve Been Searching For

It isn’t often I advocate for perfumes or essential oils. I don’t wear either of these on a daily basis because they so commonly have a TON of artificial ingredients and additives that are known to disrupt our endocrine systems. AND it is so difficult to find paleo perfumes.

And to be honest, I am definitely a fan of not masking our naturally produced scents.

But, YOU GUYS.

I have finally found an organic essential oil blend that is free of additives and all of the nasty ingredients that are typically found in perfumes. AnnMarie Skin Care has developed a new line of pure essential oil perfume blends that can be sampled in a miniature set so you can be absolutely sure you find your fav scent.

Seriously though- these are the cutest miniature bottles and I have already thought of a ton of ways to re-purpose them.

These are unique because they are blends of pure, organic essential oils that create a new sensual aromatic experience. The best part is smelling AMAZING but also knowing you aren’t dousing yourself in all the artificial ingredients and unknown chemicals typically found in perfume. The blends aren’t stifling or suffocating either – they have the perfect amount of scent.

I never wear conventional perfume because it gives me migraines, but sometimes if I feel like indulging I’ll wear one of these natural scents– and from these I don’t suffer any pain.

AND because the are made of organic essential oils, they offer similar benefits that aromatherapy can offer including relaxation and grounding.

The blends can also be combined with a coconut oil (find my fave here) to make a great moisturizer. I have recently used this moisturizer method on my scalp if it is dry , and subtle waves of the scent will wash over me throughout the day.

You can also and throw a few drops  in your diffuser to give your space some serious atmosphere.

Flavors range from love, passion, and grounded to name a few –  giving you multiple options depending on your mood.I liked all of the scents. But, my fav is definitely the passion – an earthy blend containing notes of sandalwood. This blend is the perfect accent to a night of dancing and does well withstanding the sweat and movement. You can create your own combination of signature scents by blending different oils together too.

And AnnMarie is having a special on sample kits so you can try all of their scents for $10.00. Because scents are so hard to commit to without testing fully, I was willing to test them because they also offer a $10.00 coupon off of a future purchase and free shipping on the kit versus having to dish out a ton of money to sample the blends first.

Ready to try AnnMarie’s organic scents? Get your sample kit here.

It’s You, On FIRE.

It’s You, On FIRE.

Have you lived most of your life as a career dieter?

Do you struggle with body image issues?

Feel you don’t measure up to societal standards?

Are there lots of things you JUST WON’T DO because of how you feel about your body?

Here’s a few examples:  wear a certain skin-hugging dress?  Enjoy yourself at the beach in a cute swimsuit? Go to the gym?

Do you think things like: “That kind of dress isn’t made for someone with my shape” or “I shouldn’t wear that swimsuit, no one wants to see my rolls” or “Everyone will stare at me when I’m exercising because I’m so fat”

Do these kinds of thoughts hold you back from doing things you’d like to do?  Do they keep you cooped up and quiet when you want to be bold and free?

Are you sick and tired of it??

I was too.  For a long time I starved, berated, and damaged my body trying to fit a certain mold.

I even did this when I was supposedly “healthy” and paleo.

It was a brutal time where I weighed myself constantly and never felt comfortable in my own skin. 

Can you relate?

Cue my life changing transformation in body image and self-love which has helped me not only overcome my own issues, but help thousands of others. 

I started with myself, but I had a lot of help along the way.

One of my incredible friends was a major influence on the way I feel now.

She is strong, beautiful, and doesn’t give two f***s what people think about her or her body. 

She loves herself unconditionally and she teaches women like you and I to do the same.

She is known for taking sledgehammers to scales and empowering women to love themselves no matter what. 

That woman is my friend Summer Innanen.

And I’m fiercely excited about her new program.  She’s calling it You, On Fire.

You guys know I love to sign my emails “With fire and love” because I love the idea of women bringing out their fiery, passionate, bold and fierce natures and really loving themselves, despite everything else!

Summer’s new program is the PERFECT option for any of you who struggle with that.  It’s for those of you that are DONE with letting diet culture dictate to you or make you feel like your worth is based on a number on the scale, a certain shape or figure, or whatever BS they’re spewing out these days.

It’s for those of you who want to love yourselves and learn how to do that in a safe place with an AMAZING and hilarious woman.

You, On fire is a kickass 12-week group coaching program where you’ll join Summer’s entourage and learn to stick it to societal standards, stop living behind the number on the scale and feel like a total rockstar in your body.

This will be a fun, hilarious, and soulful journey into the depths of who you are, but more importantly, will release your sense of humor!

Summer has the ability to bring humor into anything and I know you’ll love her and her program!  I can’t recommend her highly enough!

So check out You, On Fire.  Find more info here.  

Tell us how you’ve overcome (or not overcome!) your body image issues! What do you still struggle with?  What advice has helped you the most?